It happened again last week.
I was sitting in choir practice and noticed the mother/daughter duo in front of me, happily whispering, singing alto, and laughing. Suddenly, I missed my mother again. I remembered how we got to sit together in the alto section of First Baptist Church in Troy for a few months during my senior year in high school, and I wished I could have those rehearsals to enjoy all over again.
How many times since January of 1986, when we lost her so suddenly at the young age of 55, have I found myself asking:
What would Momma say?
What would Momma wear?
What would Momma serve her guests?
What would Momma think about the adults my children have become?
What would she have said about all the places I've lived since she died? Which would have been her favorite? Would she have visited us in Ecuador?
What would she do to spoil all of my grandchildren and my new great-grandson? (Because it is certain that she WOULD have spoiled them).
How would she have coped if Daddy had gone first? How would she have handled her grief as her two brothers and sister Margie died?
Over and over during the past 37 years, I've wondered, "What would Momma do?" as a million situations have cropped up.
To compound my recent feelings of missing my mother, 10-year-old Bethany came for her piano lesson and sat down to play "The Skater's Waltz." My mother took piano lessons as a young girl. She didn't enjoy the lessons very much and only learned to play a few pieces for memory, but one of them was -- you guessed it -- "The Skater's Waltz." Whenever she was coerced into sitting at the piano, that's what she played. I believe she would have thoroughly enjoyed Bethany's rendition. She would also take pride in how much Bethany looks like "her side of the family."
I don't know exactly how Momma would have answered my many wonderings, but I have a few pretty good ideas based on how she was when she was alive.
She would say something loving and positive. She was a "glass half full" lady. She was our family cheerleader.
She would have worn something that made her feel good about herself. Her makeup and hair would have been impeccable.
She would have served her guests some kind of casserole and a fabulous dessert.
She would have been unbelievably proud of Laura, Matt, and Julie and bragged about them incessantly. She would have approved of their spouses, David, Katie, and Brian, and been proud of them, too.
She would have missed Daddy and her siblings terribly, but she would have found a way to keep moving forward, keep doing things for others, and keep having a fulfilling life.
She would have been ecstatic over my grandchildren and great-grandchild. She would have asked about each one of them whenever we talked. We always talked on Saturday mornings while my dad was busy doing chores, the kids were watching cartoons, and Steve was at work. It was OUR time. She lived in Troy, and I was in Hartselle, but for an hour on Saturday mornings, it was as if we were in the same room.
But she missed the kids' teenage years. She never met any of their boyfriends or girlfriends. She didn't see them get baptized. She wasn't at their graduations or weddings. She never got to hear Matt preach. She never saw any of the houses we built. The first one, by the way, was built only a couple of years after she died. I desperately wanted her input and opinions. The only way I knew to do that was to use her beloved wedding china as the inspiration for the colors we painted the walls. I believe she would have liked that.
She missed Thanksgivings, birthdays, Christmases, and she was SO GOOD at creating celebrations. I've tried my best to fill in a little of the gap she left.
Truthfully, though, I can only imagine the kind of "little old lady" she would have become. After all, she would be NINETY-THREE if she were still alive. I would hope that she would have met her physical, emotional, and mental challenges gracefully, but I don't really know.
Many of you who are reading this can relate, because you too have lost your Mommas. When we ask, "What would Momma do?" we can't possibly know for certain.
That made me think about all those "WWJD --What Would Jesus Do" bracelets that were so popular in the 1990s. They were to serve as reminders to follow the actions, the words, and the example of Jesus as we lived our daily lives, made choices, and invested in relationships.
Fortunately, we don't have to speculate about what Jesus would do or say. It's all written down for us in the Bible. We also have the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to remind us, convict us, and direct us. The Gospel writers were very deliberate about writing down the words and actions of Jesus, and Paul in his letters to the churches wanted his readers to understand how to live out their faith in Christ and to correct wrong beliefs that had cropped up. We don't have to wonder.
John 20:31 -- "But these (words) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name."
The conclusion is clear. We have to speculate about what might have been when it comes to loved ones who have died, but to understand the will of God and find answers for life's challenges, we can KNOW by spending time in His Word and by following the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Let's cling to what we KNOW and cherish the memories of loved ones who have passed.